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Green Carpet Moth
Green Carpet Moth

To be brutally honest, The Dog and I are not early risers. Jackie prefers early mornings and I do try to join in as she greets each bleary morning with gusto, but I just can’t whip up the enthusiasm. The Dog will get up with Jackie, but she comes back to bed as soon as she is given the opportunity. It’s only when it’s past nine in the evening that I really wake up. Dogs, of course are content to doze all day, all they ask is to be fed regularly.

Here we have a Green Carpet Moth. It’s a bit too early for him as well. Until very recently, he’s spent his days, as a caterpillar, happily munching his way through the maze of Hedge Bedstraw, that has taken it upon itself to fill up all the gaps it can find in the Hawthorns alongside the road. I would imagine that he has kept normal business hours during this, caterpillar, stage of his existence. Now, suddenly, he has been transferred to the night shift. He’s a little confused, he’s not sure if he should dose off or eat a leaf.

Jackie and I changed out of our caterpillar costumes some considerable time ago. There can be no doubt that Jackie became a butterfly when that particular transformation took over her life. I’m reasonably sure that I changed into a moth.

Must watch out for lighted candles.

Oak Hay?

Oak - Leaves But No Flowers
Oak – Leaves But No Flowers

Well, it seems we have definitely had our summer. It lasted nearly two weeks, so I suppose we can’t complain.

The wind is being a little over enthusiastic today and the trees, in the wood that rises up the hill behind the house, are jumping up and down and waving their arms around like a bunch of five year olds on a bouncy castle. They do enjoy a good breeze and the noise of their laughing and shouting quite overrides the chortling of the beck that normally greets you, as you step out into the back garden.

A week or so ago, I popped in to see Sharon at aleafinspringtime in Finland, and I noticed that she had a picture of an Oak tree in flower, while there was only the merest suggestion of leaves on the Oak trees in our wood. Well, now our Oaks have woken up and are properly dressed, there is no sign at all that they intend to flower this year.

I could have missed it, I suppose, with winter hanging on until the last possible minute. When Spring arrived she really didn’t have time to do everything that needed to be done. There was such a rush to get on to summer and a great many things were swept under the carpet of last years leaves.

I’ll keep an eye out – but I don’t think we’ll see Oak flowers this year.

A Tall Tail

Meadow Foxtail
Meadow Foxtail

Grass is funny stuff. It quite deliberately makes itself available to be eaten. You see, if the world was left alone, it would quite happily wrap itself up in forest. Now grass is a sun worshipper and it doesn’t like forest, how can you live in there, it is so dark! Give it a nice clearing any day. As it happens, grazers and other grass munchers tend to be large, so they like clearings too. Not only that but, as these large browsers munch their way round, they trample any tree seedlings, that are trying to encroach the grassy space, into the ground.

So like good marketeers, the grass came up with the idea of offering a free lunch to anyone who is prepared to do a little trampling. They even adapted themselves to growing at the base of their leaves, instead of the tip like other plants. That way it doesn’t matter if the top gets bitten off.

We can’t be sure until the flowers form, but we think this is Meadow Foxtail. Our reasoning here is straightforward, the flowers of Meadow Foxtail appear in May – they are usually the first of our grasses to make the effort.

They like damp moist places best of all – no problem there, then.

Greater Stitchwort

Greater Stitchwort
Greater Stitchwort

Suddenly there are flowers everywhere. They all seem to be in a hurry to catch up with the growing season. I hope they aren’t jumping the gun, there aren’t that many bees and the like about yet. We have seen a few bumble-type bees and some of the smaller things that look like a cross between a fly and a bee, oh, and a couple of butterflies – but not enough to get round all the daffodils, celandines and dandelions that have exploded out of the road verges in the last few weeks.

This is Greater Stitchwort. Now that it has its flowers you can see that it isn’t just a stalk of grass. It is apparently, edible, although there doesn’t seem enough of it to make a meal.

The name Stitchwort comes from its use to treat a ‘stitch’ (in the side, as against in time) in the olden days. It is Greater Stitchwort because it has a cousin with smaller flowers.

It is also known as ‘Dead Man’s Bones’ because it has such a brittle stem. It tends to grow in amongst grass and other plants, as they give it some support. It particularly likes the verge of woods and the edge of hedges for the shelter they afford.

We must keep a lookout for the Lesser Stitchwort – and tell it that we’ve seen its big brother.

Bee Off!

Vetch With Bee
Vetch With Bee

Very Vetching. Whatever will bee will bee. Sorry Doris! Never perform with children or animals – or bumble bees. A picture says a thousand words – and a photographer? Don’t get me started!

We have been having a spot of bother with Vetch. It comes in many different varieties and, to be honest, some of the differences between the various varieties seem a little strained. Some times The Dog and I think that we are faced with someone who just wants to show off their command of Latin.

We had just found a sympathetic subject and in order to ascertain which variety we were examining we needed to take a photograph. You see, it was important to know if the stalk was slightly hairy – as in Hairy Vetch or not slightly hairy – as in Common Vetch.

Vetch is a creeping plant that only grows in millimetres – or at the most centimetres, so we were crouched down in a most uncomfortable position trying to get the image centred in the view-finder and in focus and keep our own shadow from blocking the light. Just as we felt that we had complied with all the requirements and pressed the shutter . . . . .

This wretched bee flew in and landed on our flower – and it didn’t even have the good manners to try and stay in focus!